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Fines on increase to deal with crime

THE number of crimes dealt with out of court has risen by one-fifth in the last five years, figures show.

A record 72,840 Crown Office disposals were processed in 2012/13, up from 38,419 in 2008/09, figures compiled by the Conservative Party show.

The vast majority (47,819) were dealt with by a fiscal fine, with fines up 13% in the last year alone.

Fines plus compensation have dipped by 14% to 2326, after rising to a record 2713 in 2011/12, while orders for compensation alone have almost halved in the last five years to 1021.

"Non-court disposals" included almost 12,000 drug offences, 1300 common assaults and 29 sexual crimes, according to the Conservatives.

The Tories say these disposals amount to "a slap on the wrist", but the Scottish Government insist the measures were backed by all parties when they were introduced in 2006 and provide "swifter justice for victims of crime".

The Tories also claim that those who have been punished out of court cannot be said to have a "criminal record", despite the fact that the crime is recorded and can be referred to in court for any future convictions and sentences.

Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "These figures put the legitimacy of the SNP's claim that crime is at a historic low into context and call into question their assertion reoffending is falling."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Scotland has never been safer, with recorded crime down to its lowest level for almost 40 years."

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Local government

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